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Web Presence Awareness

A professor from the University of Pennsylvania was recently suspended for comments she made on her Facebook account. Her posts were about her work day and how she did not want to kill any students. In another, she asks if anyone knows a good hitman. Though the professor’s intentions were clearly innocent, the university is taking the posts seriously and is disciplining her. She thought that her posts were only visible to her friends and was surprised that the university had found out. See the story here.

Even though we have all heard of these types of stories before, they seem to keep popping up. Though it may seem innocent, one must be careful about what he puts on his wall. Besides the common threat of prospective employers googling your name and finding out what you did last weekend, there are litigation risks as well. Facebook says that even when things are deleted, they are kept by Facebook. This includes pictures, statuses and messages. Basically, Facebook is a litigator’s dream or nightmare, depending on which side her client is on.

At my job this past summer, I saw it firsthand. There was a plaintiff that claimed he could not walk or move, let alone go back to work. A co-defendant in the case subpoeaned this plaintiff’s Facebook account. She paid the $120 fee to Facebook, sent the subpoena and waited. Facebook then aggregated all of the information over the life of this plaintiff’s account and sent it to the service list. The man who could not walk could apparently ski, since he posted his slalom runs on Facebook two months after his deposition. The very same deposition at which he could not leave his wheelchair and looked to be in visible pain. Acting, it seems, comes naturally to some. In the end, he dropped his lawsuit.

It is very important to think about your own web presence. Everyone has heard the common warning about the employer checking your Facebook account, but it is more important now than ever since employers can be so selective. I have heard of employers going so far as to create fake accounts and becoming friends with applicants in order to see what is on their Facebooks. You never know if Adam from Lake Forest actually was an old high school classmate that you don’t remember or is, in fact, your interviewer.

-Mark Berardi

Categories: General
  1. cmh
    March 4, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    “You never know if Adam from Lake Forest actually was an old high school classmate that you don’t remember or is, in fact, your interviewer.”

    Creepy. I just avoid the whole mess by not having a Facebook account. Maybe its limiting in some way, but I really haven’t ever felt the need for one.

    • mberardi
      March 4, 2010 at 1:05 pm

      Same here. I figure linkedin is enough information about me for the world.

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